State Journal: Dueling lawyers; Parenting

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Shakespeare's famous suggestion--"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"--may become the Ohio state motto in the wake of the tangled legal battle over the state's school-funding system.

In August, Gov. George V. Voinovich ordered the state attorney general to hire counsel to appeal a state court's ruling that Ohio's school-finance system is unconstitutional.

The state school board voted 6 to 5 not to join the appeal, but it was included as a plaintiff anyway.

Upset at being taken legal hostage in the case, the board has now persuaded the attorney general to hire independent counsel to extricate it from the suit.

The board will technically have two lawyers representing it, with the second trying to undo the work of the first.

Officials in the attorney general's office have said that including the school board in the case was a necessary legal strategy. The president of the state school board has argued that, as an elected body, the school board must stay out of the suit to maintain its independence.

No date has been set for the board's day in court.

According to California law, being a parent does not require much more energy than being a taxpayer, a homeowner, or a citizen--it's something that you are, not something that you do. It's a "status," not a job.

Diane Alva, a proud mother and a candidate for the Alum Rock school board in San Jose, disagrees.

When she tried to list her occupation as parent on the November ballot and couldn't, she felt shortchanged.

Officials told her they would allow the designation of "homemaker," which is considered an activity rather than a status. But the former lab technician said that implies she spends her time at home.

"I'm out in the community, in the library, at Little League, in schools," she said. "I'm a full-time parent."

"What more appropriate job for a board member could there be?" she asked.

Feminist groups and some lawmakers agreed with her--and with a Congressional candidate who wanted to be listed as a parent on the June primary ballot--but were not successful in changing the law in the last legislative session.

So Ms. Alva's name will appear on the ballot without an occupation listed.

Vol. 14, Issue 04

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